Effect of a patient-led educational session on pre-clerkship students’ learning of professional values and on their professional development

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Background: While there are several curricula using patients as educators, little has been published on how they affect student learning and professional development. Objective: To explore what 1st year medical students learn about professional values from a patient-led educational experience and how it affects their professional development. Design: We piloted a pediatric patient and family-led educational session during the molecular medicine course, with the goal of sharing the experience of caring for a child with a chronic illness. Following the session, students were required to submit a written reflection on what they learned and the impact the session had on them. All reflections from one academic year were qualitatively analyzed by two investigators and organized using HyperRESEARCH software. A content analysis approach was used to generate codes and emergent themes. Two theoretical lenses guided the analyses: Arnold’s framework on professional values and the lens of professional identity formation, described as a process by which health care professionals “think, act and feel like a physician. Results: Students gained an appreciation of professional values, especially humanism and excellence, and how clinician role models reinforce these values. Reflective writings demonstrated recognition among learners that their identity involved being active participants in health care delivery and not just as passive classroom learners. Students were motivated to study diligently and be patient advocates; some questioned their skills in dealing with ambiguity and with the health-care system, resulting in a sense of helplessness. Conclusion: Students learn the importance of professional attributes and of clinician role models through a pediatric family teaching experience. They are motivated, displaying glimpses of their future role as caregivers and patient advocates; however, some also express fear and doubt their own abilities. Based on this, a debriefing session has been introduced to prevent a negative effect on learner self-efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1801174
JournalMedical Education Online
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Patient panels
  • pre-clerkship education
  • professional identity formation
  • professionalism
  • reflective practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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